T he Food Crisis in Asia: T he People’s Str uggle for Food Sovereignty

Clare Westwood Pesticide Action Network Asia and Pacific & The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty

The Food Crisis in Asia
• Impacts • Causes • Solutions / Alternatives for the Future – Food Sovereignty

Impacts of the Food Crisis 2008
• The Rice Crisis • Rice is the life of Asia: “We can’t survive without rice” • Price of rice shot up by 34% in Feb 2008 • In May 2008, it went up to USD 980 per tonne compared to USD 460 in March 2008 • August 2008 average was 80% higher than the prices in January and 138% higher than the USD 335 per tonne the year before

The food crisis of 2008….
• 29 countries including 14 rice producers such as China, India, & Vietnam implemented export taxes, export quotas, export bans or minimum export prices in order to protect their local markets and ensure their own supplies • Set off panic buying eg by the Philippines and Indonesia

The Food Crisis of 2008….
• The rice crisis led the inflation of other food items. Prices of meat, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, cooking oil rose sharply. • Also petrol. • Wheat prices rose by 130% • Riots and protests in almost 40 countries • Loss of livelihoods and lives

People lining up to buy cheap rice in the Philippines

Protests against food and petrol price hikes - Jakarta, April 2008

The Food Crisis was a Catastrophe waiting to happen.
This collapse of our food production system was of a systemic & structural nature

• Insufficient supply due to doubling of demand for rice??? NO.
Rice production has been increasing by 2.2% and consumption by 1.8% every year since 2003 Farmers across the world produced 2.3 billion tons of grain in 2007, up 4 percent on the previous year. Since 1961, cereal production has tripled while the population has only doubled

Not a problem of supply….
Looking at actual consumption in 2007: - The consumption of rice was a little below production - The consumption of meat and oilseeds remained well below production levels, and - The consumption of dairy products remained stable against increasing production. Only for wheat, corn and other coarse grains did consumption outpace production, although a similar thing happened in 2004 and other years. Stocks were low but there was enough produced in the world to feed the population
Source: Making a killing from hunger, GRAIN, 2008

Other Claims….
• A narrowing global rice market – YET ONLY 6% OF THE RICE PRODUCED IS TRADED • The rising cost of oil and consequently farm inputs, & climate change ALTHOUGH THESE MAY HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE PROBLEM, THEY ARE NOT THE UNDERLYING CAUSES

• Neo-liberalist Globalization & Monopoly Capitalism • Market Speculation

The Globalization Process
The first wave was the colonialism period with control over land and governance. In many countries the land conversion saw the emergence of corporate agriculture with the development of plantations. • Use of immigrant labour – classic examples are Sri Lanka with tea plantations and Malaysia with rubber plantations. • Use of women as permanent reserve labour force – as weeders, pickers, cheap labour. Capitalist and patriarchal value of female labour.

Second phase: Post Second World War/ Independence – The Development Era
• Development of the Green Revolution in the 1960s: corporate agriculture takes root in farms with the introduction of machines and hazardous technologies • Displacement of labour; high internal migration with high unemployment • Increase in women pesticide sprayers and women agriculture workers exposed to pesticides, low wages and heavy work. • Development of contractual/ informal labour sector • SAPs

The Green Revolution
In rice, • Narrow range of “high yielding (input) varieties”. IRRI played a key role. • Dependency package of seeds, pesticides & fertilizers • Monocultures • Large scale irrigation and mechanization • Destruction of centuries-old local food production systems and knowledge • HYVs more susceptible to pests and disease • In Asian countries, average productivity growth rates for 1977-86 and 1987-97 dropped from 3.35 percent to 1.5 percent for rice, from 6.21 percent to 2.96 percent for wheat, and from 4.04 percent to 3.34 percent for corn. There has been further decline since (Kaosa-ard
et al. 1999)

Pesticide Poisonings
In the South, an estimated 25 million agricultural workers are poisoned by pesticides each year

• In the1980’s, the Structural Adjustments Programmes of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund and other International Financial Institutions intensified the globalization process through liberalization and lowered government spending on public services, namely in health, agriculture and education. In agriculture, the new policies essentially meant giving up selfsufficiency in food and a shift in priority from growing food crops to cash crops for exports.


Third Phase: Globalization & Trade Liberalization
 Formation of the WTO. Passing of the AoA.  IPRs – TRIPs, TRIPs Plus • A trade-based kind of “food security” • Neo-liberal restructuring as conditionality of lending • Trade and investment liberalization in food and agriculture • Privatization and deregulation • Food Dumping

Neo-liberalist Capitalism….
Massive Land Conversion, Land Grabbing for SEZs, AGROFUELS, cash crops, etc. over food crops  Landlessness, Mass Displacement, Migration, Social Injustice

• Crucial to recognize that globalization is NOT incidental. It is designed at every stage for control, power and dominance. • It embodies an absolute lack of concern for the human person, for human rights, for the food and national sovereignty of Third World countries. • The overriding aim is profit by transnational corporations (TNCs) and developed nations.

• Globalization has financialized and commodified rice • According to the Globe and Mail, a Toronto-based publication, the amount of speculative money in futures like rice ballooned from US$5 billion in 2000 to US$175 billion to 2007. • These speculative funds have had substantial clout in the market, all because the rice market is narrow, rice production is in crisis, and globalization of rice has been relentless • Investment funds now control up to 60% of the wheat traded on the world’s biggest commodity markets.

• 1.9 bil ha (2.6 bil ppl)
are affected by land degradation  large • Abuse of fertilizers dead zones  • Abuse of pesticides groundwater pollution and loss of biodiversity • 70% of freshwater is withdrawn globally due to irrigation salinization

• 91% of the world’s 1.5 bil ha of agri. land  agro-export crops, agrofuels, and GE soya (IAASTD 2008) • Emphasis on increasing yields and productivity has had negative consequences on environmental sustainability (IAASTD 2008) • Loss of ’00,000s of our traditional crop varieties (replaced by HYVs, hybrids, GE varieties) • Ecological balance destroyed

70% of developing countries are now net food importers 150,000 farmer suicides in India (1997-2005). In Thailand, the proportion of farming household debt rose from 46% in 1993 to 70% in 2002. In the Philippines, 50% of rural families live below the poverty line.

• The top three seed companies, Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta, control nearly 40% of the seed market, and 6 corporations control 75-80% of the global pesticide market.

• CARGILL: 36% profit growth (US$ 2.3 billion) in 2007 • MONSANTO: US$1 billion profit in 2007 (44% > 2006). Pushing GE seeds. • SYNGENTA: 75% higher profit (US$1.1 billion) in 2007. Pushing GE seeds. • ARCHER DANIEL MIDLANDS (ADM) of the US, profits up by 67% to US$ 2.2 billion in 2007. • Food processors and the world's large retail traders, such as Walmart (US), Tesco (UK) and Carrefour (France) are the other beneficiaries.

Monopoly control of the agri-food chain by TNCs

CORPORATIONS & IRRI ARE CALLING FOR A “SECOND GREEN REVOLUTION” “More of the Same” Formula and now we have CLIMATE CHANGE and the South has to pay again for a problem that originated in the North





 Control and Dominance of TNCs  Corporate Agriculture  Contract farming  Land Grabbing  WTO and globalization  Feudalism  Patriarchy  All forms of Discrimination  Militarisation and State Violence

• To Food Sovereignty • To National Sovereignty • To Gender Justice • To Environmental Justice • To Social Justice • To Climate Justice • To Democracy • To Self-Determination • To Genuine Agarian & Fisheries Reform • To Our Rice Heritage

• The rights of people and communities to decide on food & agricultural policies; to adequate, culturally appropriate and safe food; to land & productive resources; to sustainable production & livelihoods; to gender justice; social justice; & environmental justice

• The call for food sovereignty has resulted from mass struggles against the brutal impacts of liberalization and the corporatization of agriculture. It is the freedom and the power of the people to fight the power of the forces that destroy people’s food production systems through trade, investment & other polices


• CONTROL: Asserts the control and ownership of peasants, fisherfolk, women, pastoralists, indigenous peoples and all food- producing communities over all productive resources including land, forests, seeds, and water • ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY: SELF-RELIANCE • ECOLOGICAL BALANCE


Total Productivity of a BEA farm > just yield. Sustains farming families & communities in all their basic needs.

• 500 mil small farms help feed the world • Sustainable Livelihoods Small BEA farms more are productive & resource conserving than large monocultures. While the smaller farms produced average yields worth US$15,100 per hectare, the larger farms averaged only US$ 249 per hectare (Alterieri

• A growing consensus among scientists and many governments is that the old paradigm of industrial energy-intensive and toxic agriculture is an outdated concept, while small-scale farmers and agro-ecological methods provide the way forward.

STATEMENT BY THE ASIAN PEASANTS COALITION (APC): Asian Rice Crisis, due to Imperialist Globalization
• “Development policies in Asia should be based on democratic principles aimed at reducing inequality and ensuring peoples' access to productive resources and employment opportunities so as to enable them to enjoy an adequate standard of living. However, these aims can only be achieved if a qualitative change can occur in the existing socio-political and economic structure at the national, regional and global levels.”


Food Sovereignty of Small Farmers “There is no other credible way forward than to rebuild from the bottom up. That means inverting the power structure: small farmers, still responsible for most food produced, should be the ones setting agricultural policy, rather than the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank or governments.” (GRAIN 2008)

• ORGANIZE! • ORGANIZE! • ORGANIZE • MOBILIZE! • MOBILIZE! • MOBILIZE! across all sectors including the urban poor to assert their right to food and livelihood, and food sovereignty

The People’s Caravan 2004

Saving the Rice of Asia

World Foodless Day: Oct 16th

Promote the rights, empowerment and liberation of Women

Land to the Landless!


CLIMATE JUSTICE! No to Globalization!
Those who have the bear the brunt of the climate crisis are the ones least responsible for it and least able to cope with it

WTO Out of Agriculture Land to the Landless! Safe Food for All! Gender Justice! Climate Justice!


Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful